Europeans deal with Alaska salmon sustainability
In retail terms, Alaska salmon is something of a global phenomenon in that it’s recognized and coveted the world over. Europe is certainly no exception and despite a proliferation of good quality farmed Atlantic salmon, wild Alaska salmon is the iconic American fish that has captured the hearts and palates of consumers.
However, the strength of that endearment will be put to the test over the coming months in the wake of the announcement from the Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation (AFDF) that it won’t renew the five-year Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) sustainability certification for the salmon fishery. AFDF serves as the client for the certification, which has been held since 2000. Instead, the state has secured Responsible Fisheries Management for Sustainable Use, via independent, third-party assessment conducted by Global Trust Certification Ltd. of Ireland. The program received formal ISO 65 accreditation in late February.
As soon as the announcement was made there were critics on both sides of the certification camp. The Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute and representatives from Iceland Responsible Fisheries, which has 100 registered users of the IRF logo, addressed attendees of the International Boston Seafood Show last month on the evolution of sustainability in the marketplace, which helped dissolve some of the misinformation that had circulated since the announcement was made.
“Having choice in certification makes sense,” said ASMI Executive Director Ray Riutta.
The task at hand for seafood buyers is that the MSC is at the core of many European retailers’ sustainability targets, being a consumer-recognized badge of sustainable fisheries, and so the salmon producers’ move means buyers must either revise these plans or drop many highly popular products.